Don’t think twice, it’s alright

One of today’s hot stories in the SF Chronicle (free registration required) is about how the schools had to discontinue a drug program run by Narcanon Drug Intervention and Prevention which, as it turns out, is run by the church of Scientology What turned the tables on Narcanon was the gross misinformation they were spreading in the classes.

When you look at this page you kind of have to wonder how the schools missed uncovering Narcanon’s foundation. It is, after all, right on the page. And check out that guy! Woo hoo! Would you want your kid in a closed classroom with someone who looks like that? Never mind that he is a convicted felon. I guess they also missed the quote from L. Ron Hubbard.

“You may have noticed that society is rapidly going downhill… And the most serious part of this is that drugs, both medical and street drugs, have disabled a majority of those who could have handled it, including the political leaders, and have even paralyzed the coming generations.”

Now there are some hard hitting facts!

Yep they missed it all but you can’t pull a fast one on 3 major and 36 other school districts for too long (they have been using this program since 2000). Eventually the truth comes out:

Some teachers reported that Narconon instructors told students that the body can sweat out drug residues in saunas, and that as drugs exit the body, they produce colored ooze, the Chronicle reported.
Some other inaccuracies cited by the evaluation and the Chronicle – including that drug residues stay in body fat, causing people to experience repeated flashbacks and cravings – echo beliefs held by the Church of Scientology
……Among other findings, the panel determined that Narconon also incorrectly told students that the amount of a drug taken determines whether it acts as a stimulant or sedative, and that drugs “ruin creativity and dull senses.””

Oh Happy we! We send our kids to school and they come home and tell us that the anti-drug film they saw in PE made drugs look really fun or they tell us that the D.A.R.E officer started the program by showing them a board with different sized holes in it, each representing the result of a particular caliber of bullet. That one was almost my favorite. Then I found out that Officer Jackass was winking at the girls and calling them ‘honey’ in the most patronizing way possible. Better yet, I learned that Officer Jackass told the kids that your heart only has so many beats in it so you really should be careful about how much exercise you get or you’ll wear it out and die young. True story.

D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a national program run by police departments that purports to be “the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. ” I’m sure that is true in some places. I’m sure there are good D.A.R.E. programs with good officers who do a good job. Not in my town, but somewhere. Overall, however, the efficacy of D.A.R.E. has been shown to be marginal, at best. Heck, even USA Today figured this out over 10 years ago. Of course the Justice Dept. didn’t want to hear about it but what else is new?

So what is the answer? Is there an effective way to bring anti-drug, anti-gang, anti-violence teaching to the classroom? The folks at Safety First seem to have a clue and the clue is to stop denying that kids will experiment with drugs. The other clue, of course is to think and to investigate the programs you are bringing into the school and to execute some analysis as to their potential effectiveness. That would be a nice step forward.

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